Op-ed from Knight Commission co-chair Len Elmore published in USA Today on April 5, 2021. Click here to read the op-ed: https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2021/04/05/ncaa-basketball-football-college-sports-funding-disparities-column/4836629001/
Numerous media outlets have reported on NCAA President Mark Emmert’s criticism this week of the Knight Commission’s recent report, “Transforming the D-I Model.” In his State of College Sports address on January 12, Emmert, appearing to refer to our proposal to separate the sport of FBS football from the NCAA, said that some have suggested “we should even take that part that’s most entertaining and most lucrative, and carve it off the Association, set it over here and turn that into a pure entertainment industry with paid professionals.” Those comments do not accurately represent our proposal. In fact, the Knight Commission report explicitly outlines a set of principles for its proposed new governance entity for FBS football that would prohibit making FBS football players “paid professionals.”
In this important takeout on the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on college football revenue, the international newspaper The Financial Times cited the work of our College Athletics Financial Information (CAFI) Database:
The contract between the college football playoff system and its broadcaster, ESPN, is worth $7.3bn over 12 years, according to the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. Schools with large fan bases such as Notre Dame automatically earn $3.2m for qualifying for a playoff spot, while the baseline payout for other playoff-eligible schools is $300,000.
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The leading sports industry trade publication highlighted our new co-chair’s comments explaining why it’s so important for the NCAA to incorporate our Division I reform ideas, including a major change in revenue distribution:
Knight Commission co-Chair Len Elmore defended the group’s recent proposal to create an entity separate from the NCAA to govern FBS football, calling the current model “financially dysfunctional.” Elmore’s argument came on Thursday at the Learfield IMG College Intercollegiate Athletics Forum after many college leaders — including NCAA President Mark Emmert and SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey — criticized the commission’s idea throughout the week.
Elmore said the FBS “lacks accountability” to the rest of the NCAA because of the outsize power of major college football, and because it is beholden to outside stakeholders, such as the CFP, in ways the rest of the NCAA is not. “The NCAA revenue distribution formula should only count for sports that the NCAA operates in postseason and controls the revenues,” Elmore said. “And in FBS, they don’t do that.” He added that over $60M “could be saved” by separating the [sport of football in the] FBS.
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This widely read sports newsletter described our Division I reform proposal and quoted our longtime co-chair Arne Duncan on why action is needed now:
There’s a new proposal that recommends splitting the Football Bowl Subdivision from the rest of the NCAA. Why it matters: Nearly 75% of D-I athletics administrators surveyed favor governance reform of some kind, according to the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, which released the proposal…
The last word, from commission co-chair Arne Duncan:
“Change is coming…It’s absolutely in the NCAA’s interest to control their own fate and to lead. I don’t want to say this is their last opportunity to do that, but I will say they are running out of time.”
After a year-long examination, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics called today for major governance changes for Division I sports, proposing a new governing entity for the sport of football at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level, separate from the NCAA. The NCAA would govern all other sports in a reorganized Division I governance, and schools with FBS football programs would remain part of the NCAA in all other sports except football.
ESPN offered a detailed look at our Division I reform proposal:
A commission of college athletics leaders recommended Thursday that the best way to repair the NCAA’s “broken governance model” is to remove the teams of the Football Bowl Subdivision from the association, forcing the top level of college football to govern itself as a separate entity.
The Knight Commission, a reform-minded independent group of university presidents, former athletic directors and others, spent the past year studying the current state of college sports before making its recommendation.
After surveying a wide swath of college sports stakeholders, the group said it discovered that many leaders in the industry believe the time has come for significant change. It decided that the most effective way to solve a variety of problems is to separate football — an outlier of a sport because of the vast and quickly increasing difference in the revenue it generates.
The nation’s largest circulation newspaper did a thorough takeout on our reform ideas for Division I sports, including separating the sport of FBS football from the NCAA:
An influential leadership group has proposed sweeping changes to the Division I model that would distinguish the Football Bowl Subdivision from the NCAA, transforming the highest level of competition in the sport into a separate entity responsible for its own governance and revenue distribution.
The suggestions offered by the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, which is composed of current and former leaders in education and athletics, include the formation of the National College Football Association, a new governing body outside of the NCAA umbrella.
“Our commission recognizes that far-reaching governance reform will not take place overnight,” said commission co-chair Arne Duncan, the former U.S. Secretary of Education. “At the same time, it believes that discussion on a new governance structure for Division I can, should and must begin immediately.”
On Thursday, Dec. 3, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics will release its recommendations for significant reform of the NCAA Division I model. The proposed reforms will be unveiled at the fourth and final virtual forum of the Knight Commission’s year-long examination of Division I, Transforming the NCAA D-I Model: A 4-Part Series.
The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics announced today that members Len Elmore and Nancy Zimpher will become new co-chairs, joining current Co-Chair Arne Duncan. The new co-chairs will replace Carol Cartwright, the Commission’s longest serving member, who is retiring when her term is completed at the end of the year.